Date of Deployment: August 25, 2020
Hurricane Laura was a deadly and destructive Category 4 hurricane that is tied with the 1856 Last Island hurricane and 2021’s Hurricane Ida as the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana, as measured by maximum sustained winds. The twelfth named storm, fourth hurricane, and first major hurricane of the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Laura originated from a large tropical wave that moved off the West African coast on August 16 and became a tropical depression on August 20. Laura intensified into a tropical storm a day later, becoming the earliest twelfth named storm on record in the North Atlantic basin, forming eight days earlier than 1995’s Hurricane Luis.
Laura first hit the Lesser Antilles and brushed Puerto Rico as a tropical storm, then moved across the island of Hispaniola, killing 31 people in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic. The storm then moved across the length of Cuba, prompting tropical storm warnings and the evacuation of more than 260,000 people there. Subsequently, the outer rainbands extended into the Florida Keys and South Florida. Laura then moved across the Gulf of Mexico, strengthening slowly at first, before a period of rapid intensification on August 26. That day, Laura became a major hurricane, and later attained its peak 1-minute sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h), making it a Category 4 hurricane. The approaching storm prompted the issuing of many warnings and watches for Louisiana, as well as the evacuation of many people.
Early on August 27, Laura made landfall near peak intensity on Cameron, Louisiana. Measured by windspeed, Laura was the tenth-strongest U.S. hurricane on record to made landfall in the USA. The effects of Laura across Louisiana were devastating. Nearly 10 foot high storm surge was recorded in Cameron Parish. Numerous parishes had severe flooding and extreme damage to houses. Several roads had to be closed, and drivers were advised to use different routes. The storm caused the deaths of 30 people in the state alone. Texas and Arkansas were struck notably hard as well. The storm caused the deaths of at least 41 people in the U.S. and inflicted an estimated $19 billion in damages on southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. After landfall, Laura weakened as it moved inland, becoming a tropical storm later that day, and weakening further to a tropical depression over Arkansas the next day. On August 29, Laura degenerated into a remnant low over Kentucky, before being absorbed into another extratropical storm near the East Coast of the U.S. shortly afterward. Overall, Laura caused more than $19.1 billion in damage and 81 deaths. Areas that were affected by Laura, namely the Gulf Coast, were affected again six weeks later by Hurricane Delta.